Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Ashville’s Joe Stevens and Glencoe’s Katie Giles both shook off setbacks this past cross country season.
Stevens’ impediment eoccured during the final 5K of the year when he won the Class 4A state title despite colliding with a tree.
Giles’ hindrance came early in the year in the form of a hip injury, causing her to miss two 5K events.
Both runners performed when it counted, leading to their selection as the MVPs of the 2021 All-Messenger high school cross country teams.
In 11 events this season, Stevens won four events and placed runner-up three times. He finished no lower than ninth in every meet except one. He won the St. Clair County meet and the Class 4A Section 2 meet.
As the defending Class 3A state champion, Giles (pictured above) won four races and did not finish below third in six of her eight events. She won the Etowah County Schools meet and the Class 3A Section 3 meet and helped the Lady Yellow Jackets win their first-ever sectional championship. She placed 11th out of 155 runners at the state meet.
Both runners had stiff competition for the top awards.
Southside junior Jackson Griggs was the only area boy runner who broke the 16-minute mark with a school-record time of 15:56.07 at the Class 6A state meet, where he finished ninth out of 248 runners.
Out of 11 events, Ashville sophomore Taylor Knight won three and finished runner-up in three others. She was the only area girl to run a sub-20-minute time with a school-record 19:52 effort at the Fairview Invitational in September. Knight did not finish below fifth in any event except for the Class 4A state meet, where she came in eight out of 155 runners.
Coach of the Year Michele Rogers of Ashville guided the Bulldogs to their first-ever sectional championship and third place at the state meet, where they finished as the top public school in Class 4A.
2021 All-Messenger cross country
Note: all selections based on season PRs
First team boys
Jackson Griggs, junior, Southside: 15:56.07
Luke Holcombe, senior, Southside: 16:15.91
Joe Stevens, junior, Ashville: 16:23.88
Tanner Rice, senior, Gadsden City: 16:31.66
Ryan Maudsley, senior, Southside: 16:46.88
First team girls
Taylor Knight, sophomore, Ashville: 19:52.87
Katie Giles, junior, Glencoe: 20:32.26
Alexis Valentine, senior, Southside: 21:10.77
Barit Snead, sophomore, Sardis: 21:10.86
Sarah Ponder, 7th grade, Glencoe: 21:20.37
Second team boys
Wyatt Knight, senior, Ashville: 16:55.44
Dhruv Patel, senior, Gadsden City: 16:59.96
Ashton Vann, senior, Ashville: 17:21.18
Evan Christopher, freshman, Southside: 17:29.45
Clayton Knight, senior, Ashville: 17:38.06
Second team girls
Kathleen McCarthy, senior, Ashville: 21:29.33
Allie Jo Amos, freshman, Glencoe: 21:39.42
Mallory Rich, senior, Southside: 21:49.07
Sydney Hughes, senior, Southside: 22:02.92
Chloe Douglas, 7th grade, Glencoe: 22:11.96
Third team boys
Mithun Rameshkumar, sophomore, Gadsden City: 17:50.84
Max Valentine, sophomore, Southside: 18:19.47
Bryer Morrison, junior, Hokes Bluff: 18:25.14
Devin Blade, senior, Sardis: 18:32.90
Parker Cunningham, junior, Southside: 18:35.48
Third team girls
Emma Drinkard, junior, Ashville: 22:17.16
Mallory Tucker, 8th grade, Southside: 22:22.90
Zoie Menk, freshman, Southside: 22:25.91
Adalyn Phillips, freshman, Southside: 22:27.36
Taylor Dortch, freshman, Southside: 22:32.86
Honorable Mention boys
Conner Cothran, junior, Glencoe: 18:40.68
Mason Miller, junior. Hokes Bluff: 18:54.11
Trent Butler, senior, Southside: 19:07.38
Bo Parker, senior, Southside: 19:19.86
Walker Griffith, sophomore, Ashville: 19:31.80
Honorable Mention girls
Elizabeth Edge, senior, Hokes Bluff: 22:45.18
Lacey Rich, senior, Southside: 22:52.41
Katie Ogle, senior, Southside: 22:59.92
Jaxson Sizemore, junior, Glencoe: 23:22.86
Emma Thompson, senior, Ashville: 23:55.66